6 December 2008

No Country for Young Children: More horrific tales of child abuse from Britain

by Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Two stories about the maltreatment of children have startled a distracted Britain somewhat from its current economic woes. The first was that of Baby P (unnamed for legal reasons), a 17-month-old child done to death by his mother, her boyfriend, and a lodger. Only the fact that it was impossible to tell which of them had actually killed the child prevented their conviction for murder. The pathologist found more than 50 injuries to the child’s body, including a fractured vertebra and eight fractured ribs; he said that he had never come across anything like it. The killing took place in the same borough of London as the murder of Victoria Climbie, about which I wrote in City Journal seven years ago.

  Kate Greenaway/Victoria & Albert Museum, London/Art Resource, NY
Growing up in today’s England is far from the idyll depicted in this nineteenth-century lithograph.

Baby P was visited a total of 60 times by the child-protection agencies in the deeply squalid but not impoverished household in which he lived. His mother was a drug addict who had never worked, and who spent a lot of time watching pornographic videos with her boyfriend. The 36-year-old lodger had a 15-year-old girlfriend. Baby P’s mother gave birth to him in prison while awaiting trial. Social workers recommended that she be allowed to keep the baby because they, mother and child, needed to bond.

The second case involved Shannon Matthews, whose story—what parts of it were then known—I also related previously in City Journal. Earlier this month, her mother Karen went on trial for maltreating her. According to the prosecutor, Karen, who has seven children by five different men and who lives entirely on Social Security, organized the kidnapping, drugging, and sequestration of nine-year-old Shannon, in concert with the uncle of her current boyfriend. It turns out that the object of their plot was to raise $75,000 by public appeal for knowledge of the whereabouts of Shannon, who was later to be released and then “found” by the uncle, who would claim the reward.

A tearful Karen Matthews appeared on television appealing to the public to help locate her daughter, who was meanwhile being kept on a leash and drugged with sleeping tablets. Karen Matthews even printed up T-shirts reading, HAVE YOU SEEN SHANNON MATTHEWS? She had lavender bows made like those that were sold to raise money for sufferers from AIDS. Shannon was found alive, in her uncle’s house, before the target sum was reached.

Shannon Matthews was missing for 24 days; the police search for her cost $4,500,000. At one point, three-quarters of all the police dogs in Great Britain were looking for her. Karen Matthews offered to have sex with one of the police officers who came to her house during the search.

How does the liberal British intelligentsia react to this almost unspeakable social degradation? The week that Karen Matthews went on trial, their newspaper of preference, the Guardian, ran a long article entitled Marriage is a Form of Prostitution.

Source: City Journal


9 comments:

  1. Yes Joana.... that will teach those 'fish and ships'-munchers..
    Portugal 1 - Britain 0

    But in fact it's unhelpful.. if not 'hurtful'....

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  2. There's no legal reason for Baby P's right to identification being withheld. The 'story' is historical in that the alleged death and arrests took place on 3 August. In Victoria Climbie's quite unique tragedy, her death made instant front page news, as did Sarah Payne & Sohom schoolgirls. Not so in the case of anonymous BabyP - it took three and a half months to make front page news, uniquely - day after day after day. Brown intervened in this case as he did Madeleine McCanns - the only two in British politics.

    There's reported to be strong opposition to the government's controversial proposals for increased State control of 'child databases'.

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  3. KC,

    Police reports after Shannon was found "laughing, well fed and clean clothed hiding under her uncle's bed" included the uncle's confession that the family had planned the 'abduction scam'. They were hoping to acquire £1.3 m in line with the McCanns plea of abduction.

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  4. Britain is a sick country.

    It's not even Great Britain anymore, just Britain.

    I despise it for what it represents. It's a laughing stock of the world.

    Thank you Tony and Gordon.

    Not.

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  5. Hi Joana,
    I have read some very interesting and illuminating articles on your blog. For that I am grateful and I thank you. However some of the stuff is very silly and tainted by more than a whiff of ant-British sentiment.

    Moronic indignation at modern Britain not being like some Victorian picture post card, (by the way... neither was Victorian Britain), just lowers the tone and discredits your blog.

    And Mr Theodore Dalrymple being an American had to come across the pond to find examples of extreme child abuse to be represntative of a nation of many millions. Presumeably it doesn't happen in the U.S.A.

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  6. Portugal 1 vs. Britain 0, more like Britain 101 vs. Portugal 1. Have we forgotten the head lines in the British papers stating that Portugal was a haven for paedophiles and that in certain parts of Portugal they are selling babies on street corners? Have we forgotten the worldwide media campaign with the objective of denigrating Portuguese people, describing the police force as incompetent lazy drunks and persuading people not to holiday in Portugal? Of course there was the sardine muncher comment. I have no problem with that remark I’ve been known to munch the occasional barbecued sardine myself, although I prefer “Fanecas”, I believe it’s called a “whiting-pout” in English, something I rarely find up here in Canada.

    The BBC a few days ago reported on what motivated Shannon Mathew’s mother to do what she did, but of course not on her inspiration. Karen Mathew was described as the most evil of women. In listening to this report I thought about what the McCann couple and their associates had done. Many trusting people gave up their time to search for their child and were conned in to donating to a fund which was nothing more nothing less than a fund to pay lawyers, public relations firms, phony detectives and of course a fund to line their pockets. They libelled and slandered many people, hard working people who wanted to find out what happened to their daughter. Portugal wasted money and resources on this case that could have been used to help Portuguese people. So what adjectives best describe this couple and their associates?

    I would like to share some interesting comment’s made by a lawyer in relation to the case of the missing child Caylee. Casey Anthony, Caylee’s mother has been charged with first degree murder, her daughters body still has not been found and those searching for the body are now of the opinion that the body will never be found. Sightings of Caylee are still being reported, however the police have refused to investigate them because they are certain the child is dead. The police also urge people not to harass the parents of the children of these sightings. With regard to these sightings a lawyer said that if the police investigate sightings then in court a defence lawyer would say “You can’t be certain the girl is dead because you went and investigated sightings.” If the police don’t investigate the sightings the defence lawyer will say “The girl was seen alive why didn’t you investigate.” These are the difficulties of trying a murder without the body.

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  7. about children`s weelbeing in rich countries : UNICEF. Bienestar infantil en Paises ricos. Centro Investigaciones Innocenti. UK and USA are at the bottom line for wellbeing of children in the western world. This is not criticism, which could be founded, it is a very serious report.

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  8. I suggest before you lambast Britain and all it's faults, you make sure your own house is in order.

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  9. To whom it may concern: wellbeing of children in rich western countries. Informe Innocenty Unicef.
    http://www.unicef.es/contenidos/595/informe.pdf

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